Thursday, November 15, 2018

More dirty dairying

Councils and the courts finally seem to be getting serious about dirty dairying, with another conviction in the Waikato resulting in a near-record fine:

A Waikato dairy farming company has been fined almost $60,000 for discharging effluent into a waterway.

H & S Chisholm Farms Limited has been convicted and fined $57,375 for two discharges of dairy effluent from its South Waikato farm in mid-2017.


Judge Harland noted that the company's response to the incidents was "exemplary", with significant investment in effluent infrastructure on the farm following the pollution events.

However, she also noted that "dairy farmers in the Waikato region have had ample time to understand what is required to lawfully manage dairy effluent and to become educated about best practice, both in terms of the design, operation and management of effluent systems".

The fine is among the highest for effluent offences in recent years, with two other fines of more than $50,000 and a further six of more than $35,000 in 2017/18. However, the 21 convictions in the past two years involve a tiny fraction of the country's 8000 farm owners and 4000 sharemilkers

Which tells us the scale of the problem: a huge number of dairy farms fail to comply with their resource consents (almost a third in some regions), yet only a tiny number are ever prosecuted for it. Which means that most of these environmental criminals get away with it. if we're to solve this problem and clean up our waterways, that needs to change. The law needs much greater enforcement, so that dirty farmers will credibly fear prosecution and change their behaviour. Fortunately, the government looks like it is planning to do just that, by allowing the EPA to prosecute where councils won't.